Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 18 results
Media
Image of alligator snapping turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Macrochelys temminckii
Description
In Missouri, alligator snapping turtles are protected, and it is illegal to harvest them.
Media
Image of a blanding's turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Emydoidea blandingii
Description
Blanding’s turtle has an oval, moderately high-domed upper shell and a long head and neck. This medium-sized turtle is endangered in Missouri.
Media
Eastern musk turtle (stinkpot)
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sternotherus odoratus
Description
The eastern musk turtle is one of the world’s smallest turtles. It has a dark, domed upper shell and reduced lower shell. It occurs along our Mississippi River counties and in the southern two-thirds of the state.
Media
Image of an eastern river cooter (turtle)
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pseudemys concinna concinna
Description
The eastern river cooter is a broad-shelled aquatic turtle with a seemingly small head. It is most abundant in the rivers and sloughs of southern Missouri but also has taken up residence in some of our large reservoirs.
Media
Eastern Spiny Softshell
Species Types
Scientific Name
Apalone spinifera spinifera
Description
The eastern spiny softshell is a medium to large softshell turtle with small bumps or spines on the front edge of the upper shell. There are dark spots on the fore- and hind limbs.
Media
Image of a false map turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Graptemys pseudogeographica pseudogeographica
Description
The false map turtle is a medium-sized aquatic species with a low ridge along the center of the upper shell. A thick yellow line behind each eye forms a backward L shape. It occurs in large rivers and reservoirs in central, northeastern, northwestern, and southeastern Missouri.
Media
midland smooth softshell
Species Types
Scientific Name
Apalone mutica mutica
Description
The midland smooth softshell is a rather plain-looking softshell turtle, with a smooth, rather featureless olive-gray or brown shell, and a light stripe bordered by black extending backward from each eye.
Media
Species Types
Scientific Name
Kinosternon subrubrum hippocrepis
Description
Although well equipped for an aquatic existence, the Mississippi mud turtle spends as much time wandering about on land as it does in water. Look for it in the Mississippi Lowlands of Missouri’s Bootheel.
Media
Image of a northern map turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Graptemys geographica
Description
The northern map turtle is a small- to medium-sized aquatic species with a low ridge along the center of the upper shell. A small yellow spot is present behind each eye. It occurs mainly in the Ozarks and the upper Mississippi River in northeastern Missouri.
Media
Photo of an ornate box turtle walking.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Terrapene ornata
Description
The ornate box turtle usually has four hind toes. Its high-domed shell is usually smooth on top, lacks a ridge, and is brown with yellow lines. Look for it in grassy habitats.
See Also

About Reptiles and Amphibians in Missouri

Missouri’s herptiles comprise 43 amphibians and 75 reptiles. Amphibians, including salamanders, toads, and frogs, are vertebrate animals that spend at least part of their life cycle in water. They usually have moist skin, lack scales or claws, and are ectothermal (cold-blooded), so they do not produce their own body heat the way birds and mammals do. Reptiles, including turtles, lizards, and snakes, are also vertebrates, and most are ectothermal, but unlike amphibians, reptiles have dry skin with scales, the ones with legs have claws, and they do not have to live part of their lives in water.